All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

David C Schwebel

Advisory Committee Members

Samuel Cartner

Michele Forman

Sylvie Mrug

Despina Stavrinos

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences


Dog-bite injuries pose a significant threat to children around the world. School-aged children are especially at risk of injuries because of their cognitively immature tendency toward poor perception of vulnerability regarding risky behaviors. This risk is elevated further for millions of school-aged children living in rural China due to the large number of stray dogs, all potential rabies carriers. Effective intervention programs for pediatric dog-bite injuries are sparse. Most existing programs were based on public health concerns and only involve the impartment of safety knowledge to children. They produced mixed results in changing actual behaviors with dogs. Based on the Health Belief Model and empirical evidence from pilot studies, the current study developed and evaluated whether viewing a 36-minute educational video of testimonials would change children’s safety knowledge, perceived vulnerability, and simulated behaviors with dogs. Using a repeated measure case control (between-subjects) design, 280 third- and fourth grade children in a rural Chinese elementary school were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: dog-bite prevention testimonial video (treatment), or drowning-prevention testimonial video (comparison treatment). One week before and after the intervention, children’s safety knowledge, perceived vulnerability were assessed using self-report questionnaires and children’s simulated behaviors with dogs were assessed with the dollhouse task. Regression analysis revealed that children who watched the dog-bite prevention testimonial video had significantly increased safety knowledge, higher perceived vulnerability, and safer simulated behaviors with dogs. Mediation analysis revealed that the intervention successfully changed children’s simulated behaviors with dogs through increased safety knowledge and perceived vulnerability toward dogs. The incorporation of testimonials into educational programs to reduce risky interactions between children and dogs has implications for future development of interventions for other types of unintentional injuries among children. The parallel effect of both improved safety knowledge and heightened perceived vulnerability on children’s behavioral changes is also noteworthy.



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